Is Henna For Your Hair Good or Bad?

I get many questions regarding henna. The main question being what is henna? Is it a chemical, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, a rinse?


In this post, I hopefully will clear up many questions you may have about hair henna.


Henna is derived from the leaves of the henna plant. In its natural form, henna will produce a red or orange color. Henna does not come in a variety of colors as many hair products companies have convinced consumers that it does.


Black henna is one of the most popular sold, but black henna actually has indigo added to it. Indigo is a plant that contains a natural blue dye.


Black henna often contains a chemical used in hair dye called PPD (paraphenylenediamine). It used because it’s permanent, and give a natural look that can be shampooed without losing its color.


Henna works best on dark hair, but can leave an orange or red cast on salt and pepper hair.



Advantages of Using Henna


  • Henna can be applied at home and kept in overnight – since henna is not a chemical or has a low percentage of PPD, it can be kept on the hair overnight for a deep penetration
  • ¬†Henna is permanent – contrary to what many may believe, henna is a vegetable based color that is permanent. Just keep in mind that henna can begin to dull after 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Henna is a safer alternative to chemical dyes – if you are looking for a haircolor that’s a little more gentle to the hair without the peroxide, henna is a great choice.


Disadvantages of Using Henna


  • Henna can only darken hair – it does not have the ability to lift natural pigment from the hair, only deposit. Because of this, henna can enhance your natural shade or take it darker.
  • It’s messy – henna comes in powder form that you slowly mix water into to from a paste. There are no precise measurements, just eyeball it until it becomes the consistency you like.¬† Using this paste is not the neatest application and if you’re not careful, you could end up with henna everywhere.
  • It’s color can be affected by heat styling – this is most evident when using hot iron tools on black henna. The heat can affect the small about of PPD that binds the indigo, and you could end up with a red or purple cast to your hair‚Ķespecially if it gray.
  • Henna cannot be used with other chemicals – I don’t mean at the same time, but period! If you wear a relaxer, permanent haircolor, bleach, etc., it doesn’t matter. Henna should only be used on virgin hair.
  • Henna can dry out curly and coiled hair – the process of can be drying to hair that suffers from a lack of moisture. Curly and coiled hair especially, fall into this category. But don’t worry, I’ll give you some pro tips below on how to add a little moisture when using henna.



Pro Tips for Henna Application


  • USE HENNA ONLY ON VIRGIN HAIR – I know I mentioned that earlier, but you can never mention this too much. Only use henna if you previously have applied henna or if your hair is virgin‚Ķthat’s it!
  • Add moisturizing conditioner to the mixture – this works wonders for coiled hair. Just use a 4:1 ratio. For example: if you have 1 cup of henna, add a 1/4 cup of moisturizing conditioner to the mixture.
  • Do not mix in a metal bowl – the metallic of the bowl can cause a reaction with the henna and alter its effects. Plastic or glass is best.
  • Leave henna in overnight – since henna is not a chemical, it’s best to leave in overnight if possible. After you have applied the henna, place coiled cotton around your hairline and put on a plastic processing cap. For added protection, I would then wrap my head in an old cotton bandana and protect my pillow with an old towel.
  • Finish in the morning – the next morning be sure to rinse you hair thoroughly with warm water. Give yourself two shampoos. The first with a clarifying shampoo, the second with a moisturizing shampoo and follow up with either a deep penetrating conditioner or instant three to five minute conditioner (which ever you prefer), and style as usual.
Picture of About The Author

About The Author

Stephanie Johnson is a Senior Cosmetologist and Holistic Scalp Specialist in the Washington DC Area. Sign up for her free training Healthy Hair and Scalp to learn more about what it takes to get and keep your hair healthy!

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